Song and Dance in the City – A Haibun

Ubers honk as they make their way through crowded city streets. Buses slowly rumble past. Delivery bikes ring bells of warning. But in this corner of the street, only the divine laughter of a fortuitous meeting can be heard. 

It started off as the dance of strangers trying to occupy the same space. It could have become a “West Side Story” type tango, but a smirk of good humor turned the would-be spectacle into a delicious salsa of dialogue. Understanding swayed in the gentle arms of laughter. Commonality cha-cha-chatted with disparity, a note-worthy syncopation that made the conversation a harmony amidst the city’s melody. 

The new friends did not wear Pollyanna’s rose-colored spectacles of previous generations. They knew this relationship must be protected, like amber sealing off a cut in a tree. What insects caught in the resin, could be analyzed later, but for now,  the enjoyment of this opportune meeting – whether through kismet or serendipity –  resounds in the city streets.

Amidst city sounds

The divine dance of friendship

Sways to laughter’s song

Image credit: Jed Villigo @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows three young men standing on a city street and laughing at a shared joke. Two of men are Black and one, holding scooter handles, is white.

A (late) submission for Sadje’s What Do You see #119. This haibun was also inspired by the picture she chose for WDYS #118. I’ve been experiencing writers’ block the past week or so, so while these images brought many ideas to my mind, I wasn’t able to put them all together until now. Patrick’s Pic and Word Challenge #300 – City, #299 – Amber, #298 – Divine and #297 – Spectacle also served as inspiration, tying all my thoughts into this haibun.

The past few weeks have definitely been roller-coaster of happenings, bringing with it the ups and downs of emotions. Physically – it’s been all up – I completed a January Step Challenge with my running group, She RUNS this Town (formerly known as Moms RUN this Town, but changed to the pronoun for inclusivity since not all members are moms). My team won 1st place which was totally awesome! We were consistently getting over 20K steps a day – well, not me, but my teammates did which is amazing! I’ve started the Taji100 (100 miles in February to support veterans) and am currently in 3rd place in my age group for my state.

Emotionally – it’s been mostly down – my good friend suddenly lost her mother to COVID, we’ve also had numerous COVID infections at our church which has made my work there difficult, we’ve had several good friends also come down with COVID and now my daughter is sick with strep throat (thank goodness it’s not COVID!). I am trying to be like that tree with the cut, letting amber flow out to seal it off and trap whatever insects (aka stress) caused the cut to analyze for later.

February is Black History Month in the USA so this photo of two Black men talking to a white man really captured my interest. As you might know. the issue of racism is still very prevalent here in the USA, as evidenced by the killing of Ahmaud Arbery (which I’ve written about here and here), George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people in 2020. Now, some Americans are in an uproar about Critical Race Theory (even erroneously thinking that Black History Month is part of CRT) which takes away from actually addressing the issues of racism and working towards equity and yes, friendship – or at least, respectful connection – between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Diversity is a strength. Being empathetic is a strength. Being able to laugh in the midst of trying times is a strength. Can we find strength to be the harmony?

©️ 2022 iido

Resolution – A Haibun

There is no chill in the air despite the manger-as-cradle being filled by The Babe. Maybe this was the real climate during the first Noel? Mary and Joseph traveled to the rocky hills of Bethlehem in Palestine where she gave birth to Jesus Christ – hills covered in dry, scratchy sand and small grasses not soft wet snow.

I wonder if they ever looked back – to see what they were leaving behind, to realize how far they’ve come. Or did they only look forward, to the hope of what – of who – was to come?

On this warm December day, I must look back before I can look forward to new beginnings. Otherwise I fear the unintended and unwanted irony that could result. I feel the sweat forming on my brow as I imagine what this next year might bring. 

Outbound Old Year laughs

With relief or craziness

Cautious New Year starts

This photo was taken on our cross country in 2016, somewhere between CA and UT.

I wrote this poem last week when we were still in December 2021 for Go Dog Go Cafe’s Haibun Wednesday and for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #295 Chill, #294 Travel, #293 Cradle, #292 Rocky, #291 Beginnings and #290 Outbound. I need to catch up on Patrick’s challenge to continue my streak (hope it’s still valid even after my hiatus!).

This is Day 3 of 2022 – so far, it’s gone well. I never really write down resolutions but my daughters have started to write their goals for the year and have checked it off as they have accomplished them. They both successfully completed most of their goals from 2021.

I have to admit that I have never written out a list of goals – interesting, right? Why not? Did I not have dreams that I strived for? Did I have no vision for myself growing up? Thinking back, I don’t think I did. I never really thought about what I wanted to be or what I wanted to do; I never even really thought about getting married and having a family. I always thought that life – or God – would just lead me where I was meant to go.

One thing for sure though – I never felt disappointed in my life. How can I be disappointed by not reaching a goal when I didn’t have any goals to reach? Some would call this being an under-acheiver…or being naive about how life works…. I would call it being trusting….is that a goal or a resolution to have or to change for 2022?

©️ 2022 iido

The Geometry of Sunshine – A Haibun

Parallel lines seep through the leaves. It highlights the perimeter of moss, a verdant tangent kissing the circumference of rocks and logs. Morning dew collects in an overturned mushroom umbrella, bending the light at a 45 degree angle. The reflection distracts a vibrant red cardinal from his song. He puffs out his chest, taking measured steps along the branch, before resuming his aria in the spotlight. 

A grid of trees holds points of sunshine, a linear connection between time and purpose. At one vertex, a grateful squirrel pops out her head, inhaling fresh air, thinking of her cache of acorns. At another, a woodpecker begins a radius from bark through phloem to heartwood. The tap-tap-tapping sending perpendicular reverberations, intersecting the quiet morning light. 

Morning’s right angles

Chords of sunshine connecting

The shape of nature

Full disclosure – this is not a “morning sun”, it’s the setting sun. I am a night owl and not an early bird.

Catching up with Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge! This haibun incorporates #264 – Sunshine, #266 – Vibrance (I used “vibrant” instead), #267 – Light and #269 – Geometry. Geometry was one of my best subjects so this poem was a fun challenge! Can you find all the geometry terms?

I have always loved math even though after a time, the concepts started to elude me. This happened when I started high school, around the time when my head became filled with other things. I didn’t understand this phenomenon until I became an adult and studied it my feminist social work classes.

My older daughter (the author) turns 13 tomorrow. I see this process starting to happen to her – she is really good at math and science (she’s a whiz at computer coding) yet she claims she hates this subjects. She is only one of three girls in her private school class and I know she’s heard comments from other students when she is able to grasp a concept before others.

Nature can be cruel (as the saying goes), but nature is also full of beauty and wonder. This is also true of humans. We can chose what we focus on. We can chose what narrative governs our lives. I hope my girls can see the options and make the best choice.

©️ 2021 iido

Hunter vs. Runner – A Haibun and Runfession #16, January 2021

Her white belly, like a dangerous cloud against the blue sky, was difficult to see at first. But hints of brown and the predatory glint of sharp eyes gave her away before her ear-piercing screech did.   

I pump my arms faster, willing my legs to follow suit as I traverse a country road where sage greens are losing the battle against fiery reds and commanding yellows. We are racing, this eagle and I, although my plodding footfalls are in no way as graceful as her gliding gilded wingspan. Wind rustles the golden corn stalks, the soothing cheer interrupted by a final taunting screech as the eagle and I part ways.

Hunter’s glint flash bright

I am not competition

Does that make me prey?

My first runfession of 2021! I’m finally able to link up with Marcia’s Healthy Slice, the creator of the Runfession Forum. It’s been months since I’ve had a proper runfession and my soles were getting heavy.

I was able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word #263 – Bright into this haibun that was inspired by Frank J. Tassone’s prompt of a haibun about eagles for d’Verse’s Haibun Monday. Full confession (since this is a runfession!) – I think the 1st picture above is actually a hawk (taken during a run in downtown Harrisburg) and, while the 2nd picture is an eagle, it’s not real but an iron sculpture at the Hawk Mountain Conservatory in Kempton, PA.

I did try racing a raptor during a run a few years ago. I wasn’t sure exactly what type of bird it was (probably a hawk) but I was on a country road training to get my road apple award when I noticed the bird flying over the corn fields to my right. I was so intrigued by it’s elegance that I actually almost fell into a ditch on the side of the road. Thankfully, I caught myself in time and only stumbled. By them the bird flew away, it’s screech was probably laughter at the clumsy creature hobbling along below.

But I digress…I’m trying to distract you from the true purpose of this post which is to give a good runfession because Saucony knows, I need it….

I runfess…2020 was dismal year for running for me. Despite doing 100 miles in February 2020 for the Taji 100, when the pandemic hit in March and everything closed down, my motivation was gone faster than the time it takes me to wash my hands (20 seconds or singing “Happy birthday” twice). But 2021 is new year and I have already committed to several challenges this year.

I runfess…Maybe I’m crazy but I’ve always wanted to run across the USA like Forrest Gump. So when a friend asked me if I wanted to run the Amerithon with her, of course I said yes! January was a slow start with only 41 miles for the month, but at least it was a start.

I runfess…I’m doing a little double dipping with my miles for February. Not only am I running the Amerithon, but I also signed up for the Taji 100 (again!). Yes, 100 miles in the month of February for Team RWB and to support our men and women in the military. I have a nephew serving in the Air Force and numerous friends who are retired military so this challenge has significant meaning to me.

I runfess….I am still injured and am probably a little crazy to attempt this high mileage after several months of inactivity. However, I am tired of feeling like the injured mouse just waiting for some eagle or hawk to swoop down and put me out my misery. I’m actually walking about 90% of my miles, so while that will take longer, I think (hope) it will keep me from totally exacerbating my injuries. Just don’t tell my sports medicine doc what I’m doing…

I am so glad that running/walking has returned to being a bright spot in my life! I do feel so much better with regular exercise. Even if I don’t reach 100 miles in February or complete the 3521 miles for Amerithon, I know that the journey is more important than the destination. With the pandemic still going strong here in the USA, I’m not sure what else this year will bring, but at least my intentions are clear – 2021 will be a better year!

©️ 2021 iido

F-Words – A Tautogram Haiku

Fake facts finding fools

Fantasy forcing future failures

Funny? Fucked.

I found this image on Facebook from a friend of mine who had posted it. I am not sure where it came from, so if you are the owner of this image (or know who is), please let me know so I can make proper attribution and/or compensation for using it here. Thank you! UPDATE: Thank you to The Mellow Curmudgeon for finding the artist of this fabulous drawing. The artist is Rick Fausto. You can find the original work at https://rickfrausto.com/products/don-the-con.

This haiku was originally going to be a light-hearted, funny little thing using Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #260 – Future as the inspiration and Donna Matthew’s call for tautogram poems at the Go Dog Go Cafe for the structure. However, as often happens with my writing – the poem decides to take a different road.

If you haven’t guessed, the assault on the Capitol building in Washington, DC has been on my mind. Not only is there a pandemic, but there is an assault on American democracy. The fallacy of the American Way and the American Dream has been laid bare. As an immigrant, a woman of color, who has been steeped in this fabulous fable, finding out that this fairy tale is actually a “fairy fail,” has filled me with sadness, anger, disbelief, indignation. It’s the same feeling I had when I found out that Santa wasn’t real – somehow, I knew deep down inside that a man coming down the chimney to give me gifts was too good to be true, but still really hoping that he was real.

Disillusioned disappointment is tough, no matter what the age.

©️ 2021 iido

The Time Between – A Haibun

Orange fingers reach out trying to warm the cold grey steel. Is it a “come hither welcome” or the desperate grasping of a last chance attempt to prevent slipping into oblivion? Still, the sun’s tendrils hover in that space between, a promise or a reminder of potential. They mimic the train tracks that reflect back this conundrum in a different voice. Tracks can lead away or lead towards depending on the sound of the train. 

How can this indecision be solved in the quiet stillness of transition?  It doesn’t – instead it needs to be savored like cognac or espresso caressing your tongue, warming your mouth, your throat, your belly.  Only then can you appreciate this moment in time.  

Sunrise or sunset

Best seen with eyes gently closed,

Heart thrown wide open

Image credit; Rodrigo Curi @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows the sun setting over the horizon, and in the foreground, you can see rail tracks.

I knew I had to write something for Sadje’s What do you see #63 when I saw this picture. It reminded me of living in New York City and riding the subway to and from school. I lived in Brooklyn then, but went to high school in Manhattan. I did school plays and would stay after school for rehearsal then hanging out with friends. I loved watching the sunset. Years later, when I was home from college over the summer, I had a job doing interviews with alumni from my college. We had moved to Long Island by then, and I would wake up early and take the LIRR into the city for meetings. I loved watching the sunrise.

When I first looked at this picture, I thought it was a sunrise and then read the description which said it was sunset. It always amazes how people can look at the same picture and come up with totally different descriptions, explanations, meanings. That’s one of the things I love about picture prompts, and all prompts really: the responses to these prompts are so varied yet each one is beautiful, poetic and true – at least, for the poet and the people who resonate with their words.

I wonder if all people understand this concept or if it is only poets and writers? Photographers and painters (especially the abstract kind) – probably definitely. Sculptors? Architects? I would think so. Engineers and mathematicians – maybe not, since, in their disciplines, there is usually only 1 correct answer. Politicans – I guess it would depend, but currently there is a cohort where I can confidently say, “No, they do not understand or accept this concept”. Extremists who are willing to go to jail or die for their misbegotten ideology – definitely not.

“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” 
― Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

©️ 2020 iido

Run Time – A Haibun and Runfession #12, July 2020

I press the button right before our feet step off the driveway – Run Time! This has become our nightly ritual – our mother/daughter walks becoming mother/daughter runs over the span of this summer. I wanted our time together to give me a portal into your world – my own TARDIS into teenager-hood. 

Instead, we went from walking to running then sprinting – at least for me. Your time went from a 20 minute mile to a 17 minute mile and then a 12 minute mile. This is my regular middle of the pack pace, a pace I love and can do forever even while talking. But you, my dear daughter, pushed the pace and me – faster and faster. Your current time is a 10 minute mile – too fast for your old mum to catch you and ask about the two hour talk you had with your friend who’s a boy. 

Today, you almost broke into a 9 minute mile, but instead, you slowed down and waited for me to catch up, noting how much slower I am running. “Is this what happens when you get older?” you ask. Does she glimpse her future through the portal of my sweat stained face?  We walk the rest of the mile, time unknown, the portal propped open.

Summer sun fading

Time passes through the portal 

The sunflower weeps

In the spirit of Renard’s post, I am not going to apologizing for not posting at all in the past week. To be honest, I didn’t even realize it had been over a week since my last post. It was only when I realized that I had missed two prompts from Patrick and Sadje that I looked at my calendar – oh, how time files when you’re feeling stressed!

This haibun and runfession incorporates Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #242 – Time and #243 – Portal (I’m still on the streak!!). It’s not a traditional haibun, but it does capture a new tradition for my daughter and I which I will gladly runfess! Thanks to Marcia for the Runfession forum – I didn’t get a chance to link up this month, but I’ll catch up for next!

Forgive me Brooks for I have sinned….

I runfess….my daughter is now running faster than me and has logged more miles than I have in the past month. I am proud of her yet frustrated at myself for not being as consistent as she has. On the days when we can’t run outside, she runs on the treadmill downstairs or runs around the house (literally, she is running up and down the stairs, doing laps around the kitchen island, running in circles around her siblings) while I’m making dinner or doing laundry or doing some other mom-ming duty. These are the things that I put aside when I run with her outside. While I do cherish the one on one time I can spend with her, this usually means dinner is later or I’m folding laundry until midnight. Still, I love seeing her persistence and pride in getting her mile in and getting faster.

I runfess….I’ve set a goal of hitting 100 miles in August. It’s sinking in that we are already a week in and I haven’t meet my weekly mileage for this past week. I know this is due to stressing out about whether to send my kids to school or not. I have been doing research on the computer, talking to local friends who are doctors or teachers about what they’re doing, reaching out to people for their take on the situation. It’s a lot of information and I have not yet made peace with our decision which is due tomorrow. This week though, I am getting back on track! I’ll report back at the end of August!

I runfess…I really miss races! Let me clarify, I really miss the EXPO before big races! I loved getting the free stuff and trying out new gels and drinks, getting great discounts for signing up for races. I loved meeting up with other MRTT/SRTT members and “carb loading” after getting our swag. I even loved getting the race shirt that never seemed to fit right. There was always that buzzing excitement of all these people coming together for one purpose. There is really nothing like it! I miss that.

There are so many things I miss about “pre-pandemic running.” There are so many things I miss about “pre-pandemic life”!! Still, this time has brought about some positive changes (as well as some negative). This coming month, I’m choosing to focus on these positives. Like the sunflower that re-orients itself to the east at night so it can catch the first rays of the sunrise, I am re-orienting my mindset after making this stressful school decision. Here’s to the sunrise!

©️ 2020 iido

A Shining Moment – A Haibun

I am drinking hot coffee despite the 90 degree weather, the sweet creamy liquid warming my nostrils before I take a sip. I hold it for a moment, savoring it’s decadence before swallowing, while watching my children run through the sprinkler. The sunlight glistens off the water droplets hanging onto their dark hair and tan skin. These diamonds sparkle and glisten before being flung into the air echoing the sound of their laughter. I drink my coffee and commit this happy, shining moment to memory.

Growing up, my sprinkler was the fire hydrant in front of my neighbor’s house. Instead of soft, squishy grass underfoot, we had pavement that left our feet raw from scrapes on the unyielding surface. Our laughter gurgled like the fire hydrant while our screams matched the siren wail of the police – a warning that our water play time would soon come to an end. My mother would drink black coffee and watch us from the stoop, her worries emanating from the lines between her eyes, like the sun’s rays burning our already darkened skin.  

On this summer day, I drink my coffee, leaning against my marble countertop while looking at my children through the panoramic kitchen window and toast myself for not having wrinkles between my eyes.

Sunshine rewarding
Generations of hard work -
Suburban sprinkler
I bought this water toy for my kids to play with since we don’t have a pool. I thought it was cute when I bought it – maybe because, subconsciously, it reminded me of my childhood summers in Brooklyn.

This haibun was written for Lillian’s request on dVerse’s Haibun Monday to write a traditional haibun about One Shining Moment in our lives. Lillian has an excellent description of what entails a “traditional haibun” including resources for the KIGO (a word/phrase that alludes to a season – in mine, sunshine alludes to summer) and examples of KIREJI (a shift that adds insight). I hope that my haibun is meets the bar!

Serendipitously, this haibun also works for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to juxtapose our life as an adult against our life as a child. I do marvel at the difference between my childhood as an immigrant to this country versus that of my children. My parents both worked, my mom during the day and dad at night. We lived in a diverse neighborhood in the city where my brothers and I would walk to school around the corner. We took public transportation and made frequent trips into “The City”. I did my share of “babysitting” my brothers and could be classified as a “latch-key kid” growing up.

Eventually, we were able to move out of Brooklyn and out to Long Island where my younger brothers were able to live the “suburban life” – taking a school bus, playing football on Friday nights, getting their driver’s license at 16. By that time, I was already in college so my experience with “suburban life” only came when I was married and about to have kids.

My kids have never had to take public transportation as their sole means of getting around. They marvel at sidewalks and when we do go on the train or bus in the “big city”, it’s a grand adventure! They have always had a back yard and have no clue what a “stoop” is. My husband (who is also an immigrant) and I have taken them back to the places where we grew up and they marvel at the “tiny houses” and wonder how we lived with only one bathroom, without a yard, and having to share bedrooms.

Race/ethnicity, social class, education, profession – these are all inter-related. My “shining moment” would not have come to fruition without the hard work and sacrifice of my parents, without the guidance of teachers, without the encouragement of friends. Yet for some, even with these current supports, the institutionalized discrimination/racism inherent in our systems in the USA keep them from reaching their shining moment, from getting their just reward for their hard work and sacrifice, and that of their ancestors.

We all deserve a shining moment in our lives. I would even venture to say, we deserve more than one. I would even be bold enough to say, that we deserve to shine as bright as we would want in every moment in our lives. Shine on, friends, shine on!

©️ 2020 iido

Give My Regards to Mondrian – A Haibun

Sunshine yellow paths slowly overcome with tomato red worries. If they were splattered, like ketchup on a a plate awaiting a french fry’s toe dip, the red would have seemed angry. But these right angles and straight lines speak to the weight of rules and how things should be. 

Rule follower blue is in each quadrant, of course, keeping watch with that tick-tock military march head swing of disapproval – or maybe it’s disappointment, or maybe it’s both. But it’s really the white – the soul-less white, the brain numbing white – that has taken center stage.  It defines and limits the yellow’s paths so happiness is constrained to this patch of canvas. 

Each parallelogram rigidly defined as if they can’t hear the songs from Broadway calling them to relax, to sway, to be pulled and pushed and twirled, to be tossed in the air and slid through the legs. The primary passion of colors needs to be the breakout star.

Right hand against left

Piano drama gives best shot 

Angle of Life’s Joy

Piet Mondrian, ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-43, moma.org

Kim from Writing in Norfolk is hosting dVerse Haibun Monday this week. She challenged us with writing a haibun about the image above, a piece of modern abstract art by Piet Mondrian, a leader in this movement. “Broadway Boogie Woogie” was one of his last pieces of work.

I did a lot of research for this haibun so if finding out about the background work that went into writing a poem isn’t your “thing”, then feel free to skip this part and go straight to the “Like” button below! =) I love doing research and since we’re still sheltering in place, I have time.

I didn’t start off doing research but after the 2nd paragraph, I got a little stuck and that’s when I started doing some exploring particularly about the title of Mondrian’s art piece.

Boogie Woogie is a style of piano playing brought up from the southern part of the USA to the northern part by African Americans during the “Great Migration”. It’s inspired by jazz and gained popularity in the late 1930’s through WWII.

Boogie Woogie is also a style of dance, also known as the East Coast Swing.

Broadway, needs no introduction although I did find this interesting podcast about it’s history from the Bowery Boys. Around the 17 minute mark, they talk about the reason why Broadway is the only road in north of lower Manhattan that doesn’t seem to follow the beautiful grid pattern created by the Commissioners Plan of 1811. I thought it ironic that Mondrian would name his artwork full of right angles after a street that refused to conform to this square plan. Incidentally, Broadway is also called “The Great White Way”.

Currently, Broadway is closed due to the pandemic yet, I can still remember my first Broadway show, Cats, that I watched with my Dad for my 13th birthday. Since then, I’ve seen the Lion King, Hamilton, Chicago and Wicked there. The 2nd line of the haiku references a song from Hamilton called “My Shot”, which is mostly about taking advantage of opportunity.

I don’t know if Mondrian made all these connections when he painted this artwork and then named it. The BBC podcast that inspired Kim also had an interesting take on the relationship between Mondrian and Boogie Woogie (I didn’t listen to that podcast until AFTER I wrote my haibun so any similarity is purely coincidental. I swear on my favorite pen.)

For me, the artwork raised these questions: What are the rigid lines that seem to define our limits? Are they self-imposed? Or do we see them as being imposed by an “other”? How can we push, pull and twirl our edges to allow for flexibility and growth? To angle our abstract mind to find those higher meanings? To allow our vibrant, colorful, exuberantly moving joy to take center stage?

My haibun is, at it’s essence, about finding joy amidst the constraints of life – whether it’s the constraints of having to shelter in place and wear a mask, or the constraints of worries and “shoulda, woulda, coulda” rules in our lives. Can we turn our current limitations into something meaningful? This article says “Yes, if you have faith.” But what about the rest of us? What’s the angle of our life’s joy or are we content to live in the grid?

©️ 2020 iido